Our #Cavsrank series rolls on, this time with Chris “Birdman” Andersen.
Andersen split his season last year between the Heat, where he’d been since the LeBron James era, and the Grizzlies, who he was traded to for salary cap purposes midseason. This summer, the Cavaliers signed Birdman for the veteran’s minimum to fill out their big rotation.
Chris Andersen is old. I mean, like, he’s really old. The former dunk contest participant turned 38 years old in July. He’s three years older than Mike Dunleavy, and two years older than Richard Jefferson. It’s a testament to Andersen that he’s been able to stick around this long, though a two-year drug-related suspension probably ended up taking some wear and tear off his body.
He was functionally out of the rotation in Miami last season, appearing in just seven games for the Heat and playing only 36 minutes. However, in Memphis, he had a bit of renaissance and actually got to play for the injury-ravaged Grizzlies. He ended up averaging 9 points and 8.8 boards per 36 minutes in Memphis. Those are hardly superstar numbers, but it showed he wasn’t entirely washed up just yet.
He only averaged half a block as a member of the Grizzlies, and he’s certainly not as light on his feet as he once was as part of the Heat’s blitzing pick and roll defensive style. He’s still a knowledgeable positional defender, but the Grizzlies defense was worse with him on the court last season after he was traded there.
In terms of his offensive skill-set, he’s mostly a garbage man and rim runner in the pick and roll at this point of his career, though not as effective at putting the ball in the bucket as he once was. He takes almost nearly all his shots directly at the rim, and literally shot zero percent on shots between three and nine feet from the basket. Basically, it’s a dunk or a layup, or it’s not going in.
That said, he’s still a smart, well-seasoned player, and he knows where to be on the floor. He’s got great length and has figured out how to stay in the league well past most players’ expiration dates. It’s not a perfect stat, but Birdman, even as he’s declined, hasn’t dipped below a 15 PER.
We should probably expect Birdman to play a very, very small role on this Cavaliers team. Tristan Thompson is the incumbent starter at center, and last year’s midseason acquisition Channing Frye really doesn’t have the foot speed to be chasing around the NBA’s modern power forwards, so his best fit is at center.
Andersen might pick up some power forward minutes, but Kevin Love will take a healthy portion of those minutes, and Jefferson and LeBron James can probably expect to split some time there as well, especially given how well Jefferson played as a small-ball four in the NBA Finals.
In summation, you can probably expect to see very little of Andersen this season. He’s a veteran leader, and he’s clearly a LeBron favorite, and you’d have to think James was a factor in their reunion. Unfortunately for Birdman’s hopes of playing time, the team just already happens to run two-deep at the position he’s best suited for.
Birdman lands at No. 11 for #CavsRank, but his effect on the Cavs likely won’t be directly seen on the court in 2016-17.
Eighth place votes: 2
Ninth place votes: 0
10th place votes: 2
11th place votes: 1
12th place votes: 3
13th plave votes: 5